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Emergency surgery, blood transfusion, and reoperation for bleeding have been associated with increased operative morbidity and mortality. The recent increased use of direct oral anticoagulants and antiplatelet medications has made the above more challenging. In addition, cardiopulmonary bypass (CPB), with its associated hemodilution, fibrinolysis, and platelet consumption, may exacerbate the pre-existing coagulopathy and increase the risk of bleeding. The aim of this study was to examine available literature with regard to treating patients who are on the above medications and require emergency cardiac surgery. Management decisions are typically made on a case-by-case basis. Surgery is delayed when possible, and less invasive percutaneous options should be considered if feasible. Attention is paid to exercising meticulous techniques, avoiding excessive hypothermia, and treating coexisting issues such as sepsis. Ensuring a dry operative field upon entry by correcting the coagulopathy with reversal agents is offset by the concern of potentially hindering efforts to anticoagulate the patient (heparin resistance) in preparation for CPB, in addition to possibly increasing the risk of thromboembolism. Proper knowledge of anticoagulants, their reversal agents, and the usefulness of laboratory testing are all essential. Platelet transfusion remains the mainstay for antiplatelet medications. Four-factor prothrombin complex concentrate is considered in patients on oral anticoagulants if CPB needs to be instituted quickly. Specific reversal agents such as idarucizumab and andexanet alfa can be considered if significant tissue dissection is anticipated, such as redo sternotomy, but are costly and may lead to heparin resistance and anticoagulant rebound. © 2021 Wiley Periodicals LLC.


Rami Akhrass, Marc Gillinov, Faisal Bakaeen, Deena Akras, Scott J Cameron, Jay Bishop, Samir Kapadia, Lars Svensson. Emergency cardiac surgery in patients on oral anticoagulants and antiplatelet medications. Journal of cardiac surgery. 2022 Jan;37(1):214-222

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PMID: 34779523

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